Ministry Warns Company To Supply Better Rice

The Ministry of Defense has warned the Paragon company that it must provide better quality rice to meet the terms of its multi-million contract to supply the military with rice, officials said Mon­day.

A Paragon representative called the warning an attempt to smear the company, which last month dis­closed to the public it had lost a contract to provide cloth­ing to the military, despite un­der bidding the winner, Kong Hong, by $500,000.

“The Paragon company hasn’t offered the quality rice it agreed with the Ministry to provide,” said Chum So Khoeun, a commander of Military Region 5. He added that Paragon had agreed to provide rice with fewer than 35 percent broken granules but the military has determined that the over 50 percent of the rice provided is broken.

On March 29, CamControl, the government body which controls the quality of imports and ex­ports, and the country’s five re­gional com­manders rejected Par­a­gon’s first shipment, said Tep Sam An, Mil­i­tary Region 4’s de­puty director of rice supply.

“Now soldiers at the border are without rice to eat. They are hungry,” he said. “You know they stand by at the borders and if rice can’t reach them on time, they may react and they will be getting angry soon.”

This year is the first year Par­a­gon has supplied rice to the army. In 2004, Navy Garment had the contract. The 2005 contract, worth about $8.1 million, requires Par­a­gon to deliver more than 30,000 tons of rice, Chum So Khoeun said.

“I have noted that before, we have no problem,” Tep Sam An said, adding that Siem Reap, Kom­pong Thom, Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces are already facing rice shortages.

Tep Sam An estimated that the military pays Paragon $206 per ton of rice, but an officer in military re­gion 2 said that it paid Paragon the equivalent of $273 per ton. Each RCAF soldier re­ceives 22.8 kg of rice per month, usually on the 30th of each month, he said.

A high-ranking manager at the Paragon company who asked not to be named said that the Min­is­try of Defense was attempting to spoil his company’s reputation be­cause it revealed the unfair terms of the military clothing bid contract.

“This is part of an old wound,” he said. “I think this is to pressure Paragon.”

The manager disputed the claim that the Ministry of De­fense had CamControl inspect its rice but said that it agreed on Monday to supply rice according to the Min­istry’s demands.

A Paragon representative in Bat­tambang who also asked not to be named said that the Minis­try of In­terior never criticized the rice that Par­agon supplied to po­lice last year.

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